Wedding Wednesday: Top 5 Things to Know About Engagement Rings

Hey Gals!  Are you hoping to get engaged soon?  And/or do you want to know everything there is to know about some diamond ring bling? Then our first guest blogger, Elyse has a post just for you today!

I was priviledged to meet Elyse in college, as we both worked toward our PR degrees.  She was also the producer for a local cable show myself and two other comm girls “starred” in. (It was Ladies Corner, we BSed about life, it was hilarious and aired at really random hours of the night.)  These days, Elyse lives in Colorado and is currently training for a half-marathon. (GET IT GURL!)  She loves Disney, social media and musical theater.  Today, she’s got some must-know tips to share with us, and I’m hoping she’ll write more great stuff for us in the near future!! Give it up for Elyse! (I hope you’re applauding at your screen with me).

Thousands of couples recently tied the knot on 11/11/11, and according to ABC News, “November and December account for 26 percent of marriage proposals.”  The holidays are right around the corner, and it’s hard not to notice the increase of commercials promoting sparkling pieces of jewelry.  So if you’ve been thinking about a walk down the aisle in the near future, there are some things you should know.  Heck, even if you’re single and not thinking about proposing or getting engaged soon, you should still check out these tips!

Now, for full disclosure I’m not an expert on the subject, but I do work at a jewelry store where I see couples every day in search of the perfect ring.  Since I starting working at a jewelry store, my knowledge on diamonds and engagement rings have grown, so I wanted to take a moment and share my newfound knowledge with you!

1. Get offline and into the store

It’s ok to search online for ideas of what rings you or your significant other may like, but it’s better to see it in person. Whether you go by yourself or as a couple, do not be afraid to step into a store!   Rings can look different online, or in a magazine, than they do in real life.  Some rings that you may love in pictures may not fit right on your finger.  Some rings that you didn’t think you would like, once you try them on, you fall in love with. This does not just apply to the ring settings, but the diamonds itself. It’s always better to see it in person, up close, then risk ordering a ring online to only find out you don’t like it when it comes in the mail.

2. Know your 4 C’s

A good sales associate will tell you all about the 4 C’s of diamonds, but I suggest you start by doing your research.

  • Carat: This does not reflect a diamond’s size, but the actual weight of the diamond. Take into consideration the size of the finger that this ring is going on. A 1.00 carat diamond is going to look larger on a size 4 finger than on a size 9. Sometimes customers can get caught up in the carat weight of the diamond, they forget about the other characteristics that impact the quality (and price) of a diamond. Just remember that bigger isn’t always better!
  • Color: Diamonds have a scale of colors, ranging from colorless (D, E and F grades) all the way to fancy yellows.  Colorless diamonds are rare and will be expensive. Unless you specifically love the look of a yellow diamond, try to stay away from anything with a yellow tint to it, even if it means spending a little extra.  A high near colorless grading (specifically G and H) are going to be your best bet of getting a good color diamond for a good price. Unless you are comparing a colorless next to a near colorless diamond, my bet is many people won’t even notice the difference.

  • Clarity: Just as diamonds have a scale of colors, they also have a range of inclusions.  Inclusions are internal, and are kind of like birthmarks on a diamond  – they make each diamond unique.  They can be tiny light or dark crystals and minerals that are imbedded in the diamond, laser lines, small cracks (also called feathers) or large cracks.  The worst kind of inclusions, and the ones you need to watch out for, are carbon spots or black spots, inside a diamond. Even if the spot is small, the carbon can grow overtime expanding the black spot in the future.

A flawless diamond will have no inclusions and is rare and expensive.  Unless this is really important to you, save your money and get a lower clarity grade diamond, because depending on the clarity, truthfully no one may even notice the difference.  Very very slightly included (VVS1-VVS2) and very slightly included (VS1-VS2) diamonds will have some inclusions but they will not be visible to the naked eye. Slightly included (SI1-SI2) diamonds may or may not have inclusions that are visible with the naked eye and will vary with each individual diamonds based on the type of inclusions.  Usually anything in the included range (I1-I3) will have inclusions visible to the naked eye, some more visible than others.

The Overall, be sure to examine the diamond thoroughly under a gem scope before purchasing and make sure the inclusions do not detract from the look of the diamond.

  • Cut: Sometimes people can confuse cut with shape.  Diamonds do come in many shapes, but the cut of a diamond reflects the symmetry and polish of a diamond, which affects the diamond’s light performance.  This is the most overlook of the 4 C’s.  Cut grading can be ideal or excellent, very good, good, or fair/poor.  When a diamond is well cut, light enters the diamond and reflects off the facets and through the table and gives off that sparkle and fire. However, if a diamond is cut poorly (too shallow or too deep), the light can leak out leaving the diamond looking flat. This should be avoided. The most cost effective cut with the most brilliance would be a very good cut.  However, after comparing a very good cut with an ideal cut, my person opinion is to splurge a little on the ideal cut because it sparkles more. (Who doesn’t love a great sparkly diamond!)

3. Be realistic about the price

Just as you should do your research about the 4 C’s before heading into the jewelry  store, please take a moment to note the prices of the rings and diamonds.  Sales Associates will work with you to find a great ring in your price range, but they are not miracle workers!  Please do not expect to get a flawless, colorless, 1-carat diamond ring for $1,000.  It is just not possible.  Determine what you are willing to sacrifice (e.g.: smaller carat weight diamond for one with better clarity).

It’s ok to ask the Sales Associate if they’re giving you the best price possible.  Some jewelry stores list the retail price but can give you a certain percentage off.  Not all jewelry stores up-price their products, but sometimes there are additional discounts that are available.  Don’t be afraid to ask for a better deal, but that $10,000 diamond ring still won’t be $1,000.  Know what you want to spend and be realistic about what it will get you.

4. Check out the American Gem Society

Founded in 1934, the American Gem Society is a not-for-profit trade association dedicated to ethical business practices, development and maintenance of superior gemological skills and knowledge, and protecting the consumer (that’s you).  Only 5% of jewelers are members that meet the requirements, which mean that only 5% of jewelers have pledged to be an advocate for the consumer, fair pricing and honest value on their merchandise, and follow the AGS code of ethics, which include: providing full disclosure of all facts pertaining to the products they sell and not selling conflict diamonds by complying with the Kimberley Process Certification.

Visit the Society’s website at to find a jeweler near you that you know you can trust!

5. Warranties and Insurance.

At the jewelry store where I work, we have a lifetime care plan that covers all maintenance.  Nothing makes me sadder than seeing a couple come into the store to get ring repairs that end up costing them more than the value of the ring.  Repairs can be expensive, and had they purchased the care plan, all those repairs would be included with no extra charge to them.

Purchasing a ring is a big investment, so don’t get cheap on the warranties and insurance!  Some jewelers’ warranty or care plans will take care of all maintenance for the ring for life, others only cover the diamond.  Be sure to ask about the type of warranties or care plans that are available to you.  Then once you purchase the diamond ring, be sure to make copies of any grading reports, take pictures of the ring and get it insurance with your homeowners or renters insurance incase it is ever stolen.

I hope these tips are helpful in your search for the perfect ring.  If you have any questions, please leave a comment below!

_ _ _ _ _ _

Thank you Elyse! We hope to hear from you again soon!

So, there you go! The top 5 things you must know before shopping for engagement rings.  Be sure to pass around your new-found knowledge with your lucky second half!

XO Stephanie


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